Toronto 2012 Fringe Festival’s Tam Lin (Epona Productions) is a Celtic, Grimm-like fairy tale. Complete with some rousing (and ear-splitting) bagpipes, highland dancing, and lush costumes this is a show no Gaelic-groupie should miss.
Tam Lin is a retelling of an old Scottish tale. Young, mortal Jennet (played by Màiri Mason, who also is the originator of book, music and lyrics) faces off against the magical Fey queen (Amy Marie Wallace) to save Tam Lin (Wesley J. Colford).
The narrative switches between musical ballads that hit home, and dialogue that falls short of the mark.
The music and highland dancing are the true stars of this piece. The vocals are haunting and the movement is poignant and graceful.
By contrast the acting seems stiff. The majority of the young actors say each of their lines the same way. The dialogue is made repetitive from this lack of variation.
Exceptions include the Faery Queen – and her henchman Aonghus (Vaughn Harris) who provides some much needed comic relief. The Queen – evil, yet needy – accents her more villainous pronouncements with the plucking of a violin.
The music is well integrated into the show, including the violin, and an ominous drum.
The costumes are vibrant. Most noticeable are the faery’s masks, which distort their faces to create grinning imps and ghouls.
The stage is kept alive by a highly physical cast. Who – when not dancing – are moving props, catching cups, and riding on wispy-looking hobby horses.
Tam Lin is interwoven with Gaelic words and phrases – used artfully enough to be understood. Though the definitions are also in the program for those who want to get a leg up and find the difference between a bairn and a càirn.
Tam Lin is a dark fairy tale that is a must-see for lovers of Scottish music, or highland dance. Its fluid movement and lingering melodies more than make up for clunky dialogue.
- Tam Lin plays at Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St. Toronto)
- Showtimes are: July 5, 8:15pm; July 6, 3:00pm; July 8, 4:45pm; July 9, 10:15pm; July 10, 10:30pm; July 12, 12:00pm; July 14, 7:30pm
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
- Please note that the show time for Tam Lin says 80 minutes, however it runs closer to 60.